Walk into a chic cigar lounge in North Miami Beach where flowing Brazilian zouk dancers — as ethereal as smoky wisps rising from a hookah — command your attention.
Or step back in time at a retro club in Boca Raton, alongside charming fellows in golf caps and ladies in polka-dot dresses who bounce and glide and swing across a black-and-white checkered dance floor.
In Margate, at a shopping center with a supermarket and dollar store, let the brass-infused, heart-pounding salsa beats and other Latin rhythms drive your hips wild. Salseros don sweat-soaked shirts like badges of honor.
A craving for a dance fix can seldom wait for the weekend. It's an addiction to motion and sultry or swing rhythms that stir a desire to sway, shimmy and spin.
And in South Florida, burgeoning underground dance scenes for Brazilian zouk, salsa and lindy hop swing emerge in unlikely places, and on the least charismatic of days: Mondays and Wednesdays.
Even the uninitiated — those tempted to join these salseros, zouk and swing dancers — can dip a toe and explore with a group lesson before bravely diving into any of these social dance scenes.
Sizzling movesin N. Miami Beach
Zouk evolved in the late '90s from the sizzling Brazilian lambada and could be compared to a cross between salsa and Dominican bachata, said Kendra Haynes, a Brazilian zouk instructor and co-founder of Zouk Mia dance company. But the music comes from the French Caribbean.
Each Monday, dancers are greeted with a Brazilian zouk bonanza. Two group-lesson offerings at VK Dance studio in North Miami Beach are followed by a night of slow-quick-quick-slow-paced sensual dance at the nearby C-lounge Cigar & Hookah Bar.
"Our entire goal is to promote zouk. It's still a very small dance [scene]. Obviously, it's largest in Brazil with huge scenes in Europe and Australia," said Haynes, 25. "But in the U.S., it's fairly small. We're only one of about eight cities in the U.S. that offers zouk."
The intimate dance floor quickly fills up with dancers who circle one another in fluid motion, as if under water: hips move in unison and serpent-like bodies roll into one another.
A signature move: the woman's hair-flipping, head-rolling motion. And it turns heads — spectators at the cigar lounge often ogle away.
"It's a unique setting. It just gives you this sense of being connected to your partner, which is what zouk's all about," Haynes said.
Monday lessons at VK Dance, 3363 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach; 305-944-4725, miami.vkdance.com
Hours: 8-9 p.m. beginners, 9-10 p.m. intermediate; $15 per lesson.
Social dancing 10:30 p.m. at C-lounge Cigar & Hookah Bar, 3945 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach; 305-354-9300, c-loungemiami.com. Free.
As with zouk, swing dancing, too, is all about connection, basic footwork and learning how to lead and follow, said Andrew King, who alongside Kaycie Davis teaches a free lesson Wednesdays and hosts a night of swing dancing at Platforms, a retro club in Boca Raton.
"We're keeping swing alive," said King, 42. "It's kind of like an underground club that never died."
On a checkered dance floor, beneath hanging vinyl records, smiles abound as dancers skid across and twirl. Swing, organizers say, is on the upswing.
The music is happy and the dancers are friendly.
"If you're here smiling, having fun, they want to dance with you. And the great thing is they don't care about age, color, creed, race, religion. That's all out the door," King said. "Can you dance? Great. Even if you can't dance, do you want to dance? Come to the dance floor. People will dance with you; it's an inviting environment."
Dancers wear vintage-inspired styles with an edge: slacks with suspenders and bright-colored Chuck Taylors; flared print dresses with pearls and canvas Keds. Tattoos, too, are an accessory.
"It's like a mini story with however many people you dance with every night," said Davis, 29. "It's a step back in time."
For Rishona Cann, 27, of Parkland, it really was a step back in time. She danced swing for her bat mitzvah and became reacquainted with the dance about eight months ago.
"Then it became an obsession. I didn't mean for this to happen," she said. "When you dance, you're always happy. It's the best problem to have."
Platforms, 99 SE First Ave., Boca Raton; 561-392-6885. Lessons Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.; social dancing at 9 p.m. Free.
Even though salsa dancing may seem ubiquitous in South Florida, and it's expected in places such as South Beach or downtown Miami, it's a rare find in a Margate shopping center.
There, on Wednesday nights, a place called Paladium fills with salseros.
Christian Espinola, owner of Casa Salsa dance studios who also hosts a free lesson and social Wednesdays at the Paladium nightclub, says the salsa community is welcoming.
"For many, this would be considered an underground scene, because most people don't know where the salseros go. They know where all the nightclubs are, but the salsa community and club community is completely different," said Espinola, 30. "It is underground, but it's much bigger than you think."
Victoria Brooks, 25, recently moved from South Dakota to Pompano Beach and wanted to learn how to dance as well as her cousin, so she began taking lessons — daily.
"I've met a lot of people from all walks of life who really love dancing as much as I do," she said.
In the spacious no-frills club, the focus is on the wide, wooden dance floor where pairs spin, hips sway and arms float overhead before a final dip.
"I feel like a blank canvas, and for every song I have the opportunity to express myself in any way," said Lisa Castellanos, of Boca Raton.
Paladium, 5688 W. Sample Road, Margate; 954-977-7752, paladiumnightclub.com. Lessons Wednesdays at 9 p.m.; social dancing 9:30 p.m. Free.
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